Friday, June 19, 2015
New projects will bring more workers, residents to downtown Dallas' West End
Dallas’ West End Marketplace hasn’t changed much since a decade ago.
That’s when the cluster of big red brick buildings on the northwest corner of downtown went dark.
The centerpiece of the surrounding entertainment district, it once housed movie theaters, restaurants, shops and a nightclub.
Now developers are dusting off the historic property with plans to make it into a vibrant office campus.
It’s one of the biggest of a series of projects in the works for the West End.
Downtown Dallas’ West End district has already been through a lot of transformations.
At the turn of the 20th century, it was one of Dallas’ busiest warehouse and manufacturing centers.
Starting in the 1970s it became of one the city’s first historic districts and was transformed into a popular area for entertainment, restaurants and retail.
In the late 1990s, the old brick buildings on downtown’s west side starting losing out to newer venues.
Development in Uptown and later Victory Park has overshadowed the West End.
Now the area is starting a comeback, with development that will bring it new jobs and residents.
Developer Granite Properties decided to buy and renovate the empty West End Marketplace because of the boom underway in Uptown and parts of downtown, said chief operating officer Greg Fuller.
“There isn’t anything comparable in terms of size, amenity base and convenient location,” Fuller said.
Its location across Woodall Rodgers Freeway from Victory Park is also a big incentive to redeveloping the building, he said.
The 113-year-old former cookie and candy manufacturing plant was renovated in the mid-1980s into a festival marketplace.
After years of success, lagging business caused the marketplace to close in 2006.
Granite, one of Dallas’ most successful office building developers, plans to convert the old retail and theater space into offices for small and startup businesses.
“We work in parts of California and Boston and Atlanta where buildings such as this lease at a premium to creative knowledge worker tenants,” Fuller said.
Rebooting the marketplace building will help kick the West End into high gear, said John Crawford, CEO of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc.
“That’s driving the equation in terms of how the West End will evolve in the next 18 to 24 months,” Crawford said. “The West End is about to come of age again.
“It’s one of the last areas downtown that isn’t getting a lot of attention.”
Crawford said the new real estate developments next door in Victory Park are causing developers and investors to refocus on the West End.
“The West End is a sentimental favorite, and people want to see it do well,” he said.
Apartment builder Fairfield Residential is building the largest new project in the West End, a 267-unit rental housing community that stretches along Houston Street between Ross and McKinney avenues.
Designed by architect Corgan, the five-story apartment buildings are planned to blend with the area’s historic architecture.
Developer Provident Realty Advisors is working on a project at Houston and Continental Street.
Provident bought the old Brewery building and plans to redevelop the site between the West End and Victory Park.
“Our project will be mostly apartments with the possibility of a small amount of retail,” said Provident Realty’s Leon Backes. “We liked what Trademark Property is doing in Victory and what Fairfield and Granite have going in the West End.
“We’ve got a large site with great views and terrific entitlements — with lots of exciting things happening around us.”
The owners of one of the last unrestored buildings in the West End are also hoping to start up construction soon.
The 110-year-old Purse Building at Elm and Record streets was purchased last year by a partnership that includes Tanya Ragan and architect Craig Melde.
Ragan said they are working on plans to rehab the six-story building, which once housed Dallas County offices, into new business space.
“We’re talking with some prospective users right now,” Ragan said. “There’s a lot happening in the West End.
“Since we have owned the building there have been lots of changes, with more companies moving downtown,” she said.
Steve Brown/Dallas Morning News